Gorgon – The Prelude
It’s been with great expectation, that we have been waiting for Aradia’s The Divine Comedy kickstarter. I only ordered Gorgon and Charon, so delivery was quite fast and without problems.
When first I read about the kickstarter themed on the Divine Comedy, I fell in love with the idea. It is classical literature, art and one hell of a fantasy journey for Dante under the guidance of the roman poet Virgil. He went through Hell and purgatory and lastly to Paradise. It is as well a journey of the Christian mind through these dimensions. Visions of the afterlife.
Many classical artists have interpreted the divine comedy, like Botticelli or Hieronymus Bosch to name but a few. Bosch is one of my favourites and quite a pioneer of fantasy art centuries before anybody so much as thought of fantasy as a genre.
So why not make an interpretation of the Divine Comedy in miniature art? That is exactly what Aradia has done.
The Gorgon originally stems from Greek mythology. Medusa was one of three. Medusa was a powerful demi-goddess, her hair was made of snakes. If you look her in the eyes, you turn to stone. The Hero Perseus donned a helm of invisibility and borrowed Pallas Athene’s reflective shield. By using the shield as a mirror, he could see Medusa without turning to stone. She could not see him because of his helmet and in the end, he chopped off her head.
Gorgon from the kickstarter is a 75mm kit depicting the Gorgon crushing a statue, whom we know must have been a living man before. This Gorgon has dragons wings, the upper body of a beautiful woman, tail of a snake and snakes for hair, just like Medusa’s. The statue looks like it is captured in the middle of an attack, lunging forwards with his spear, yet the Gorgon is lying languidly in front of him, wrapping her snake’s tail around the statue, crushing it. It is a very powerful image of the Gorgon on total control of her enemy. It could be a man turned to stone years ago, her just crushing the statue sort of randomly. Or it could be somebody attacking her, just turned to stone, a moment ago or even in the process of turning to stone, she wraps her tail around him, squeezing, no challenge at all, her killing him almost as an afterthought.
The figure is sculpted by Pedro Fernandez after a concept by Stefano Moroni.
Gorgon comes in a nice and sturdy cardboard box with a glossy green print and a picture of the box art. On the side of the box is a quote from the Divine Comedy:
“Turn back, and close thine eyes, for should the Gorgon reveal itself, and thou behold the face, there ‘d be no more returning up above.” The teacher thus: And turning me himself, on my hands he did not so far rely, as not to close mine eyes with his as well”. Inferno, Canto IX vv.55’60
Inside we find many resin parts packed in a couple of plastic bags and wrapped in bubble foil. There is also a small art print with the painted miniature superimposed on top of the concept sketch in colours similar to those on the outside of the box. On the back of the card is printed the same quote as on the box. The card is a nice little touch.
Sculpt and Cast
In the plastic bags, we find 8 finely sculpted medium grey resin parts. One of them a style of stone arch, that serves as the base of the vignette. We have the unfortunate hero, turned to stone and the Gorgon herself, her upper body, her arms resting on the edge of the base, a part of her snake tail, that connects with the part that wraps around the statue and finally her wings.
The statue/hero turned to stone stands at just about 80mm tall, so he’s a big fella in 75mm scale. The Gorgon’s human upper body fits with the scale and is furnished with a long serpentine tail, wrapping around the statue, making for approximately 300mm in total length!
Sculpt is good and sharp. The wings are very delicate, surprisingly so for a resin kit. Details are sharp and very well executed. It all has a distinct sculpted by hand feel; nice sharp edges, lots of textures and you can perceive minute tool marks upon the figure. It all gives it a tactile quality. It is organic, for me it makes the model come alive. I find this rather refreshing after seeing more and more digital sculpts, that tend to be rather sterile. Here you’re not in doubt, it is made by hand. This way of sculpting might not fall in everyone’s taste. Some you find hand sculpted miniatures, that are so clinically perfect, that they might be made digitally, which can seem pointless. I for one like it when the miniatures are a little gritty and imperfect, so you can feel the human hands upon it and as I said, it comes more alive. Also a slightly textured surface, is more inviting to paint, than something totally smooth.
The cast is nice and sharp, it captures the sculpt perfectly. I did not find any bubbles in it. The arms and torso of the Gorgon come on a pair of rather large moulding blocks, but the attachment points are small, so clean up of this will be easy. There is a tiny amount of flash and mould lines here and there, this figure will need clean up, but it is not bad.
The spear of the unfortunate hero is made of a copper rod, with a sculpted tip and arms mounted, no distorted resin here, but the purpose of this is different. This construction allows the spear to be mounted on the figure by its right arm and the left arm to be broken. The left arm is in position, but broken by the elbow and even missing a bit in the middle as the statue crumbles, this is a rather ingenious feature I think. This makes for an impressive figure indeed.
The cut of the parts looks neat and smooth, most of the cuts are staggered, so there is no doubt as to how the parts fit together. Fit between the parts is impeccable. I especially like the way the female torso fits upon the snake tail, the fit has been made to look like the transition from human flesh to scaly snake. Assembly of this figure looks to be easy and free of problems.
Overall I think the quality of the sculpt and cast of this figure is good, though not as smooth or clean as other offerings from Aradia, that I have tried.
Design and Originality
As for originality, this is not like any other miniature, I’ve seen before. I like the design, it really captures the hellish mood of the Divine Comedy. It tells the story of the Gorgon nicely and has a very grim cast to it. The expression of indifference on the face of the Gorgon, really helps to tell her story. The way this consists of two figures and a base in one, effectively turns the whole thing into a vignette or even a small diorama.
The whole figure has a statuesque quality to it. It sort of reminisces the classical art from which it draws its inspiration.
The way the snakes tail of the Gorgon crushes the statue is very well executed and makes for a strong dynamic piece, where you can really go to town with storytelling and moods in colour. The feature of the spear, that supports the broken arm is a very fine detail, that goes to show that the design is without compromise.
The figure is much like a classical statue and really something else from what we are used to in fantasy miniature. I find it quite refreshing as well as a daring move from Aradia. Depicting such a known piece of art and literature will challenge people s preconceptions of what it should look like. I think everyone has their own opinion of what the Divine Comedy should look like, what it should feel like. At the same time there are many classical paintings and statues, that interpret the Divine comedy and is actually different artists ideas of the concept, so already there in the fine Arts we have different interpretations of the material. I think Aradia has tackled this with respect for both the artists that come before and respect for the public that now has to include the Aradia interpretation of the Divine Comedy. Personally I think they did a great job of channeling this piece of old literature and Art into our world of miniature. That, I think is the best part of this kit, it takes a classical Greek concept, in the way that it was used in old literature in the Divine Comedy and the way that it has cropped up in classical and fine Arts and gives it an interpretation in this present medium of creativity and Art.
The whole concept of making the Divine Comedy in miniature really speaks to me. The kind of grim story telling, which we know and love from fantasy art, combined with literature and fine art is a great idea and maybe even a step in the right direction of figure art as a whole. I feel that this merging of miniature and classical art and literature lifts the miniature art up towards the direction of art it should be rather than just a hobby. I am very curious to see how this series of figures will impact on the hobby in the future.
If you are into classic literature, classical and fine Arts, this should prove an interesting offer. It is also part of a powerful vision of Hell, which can tickle the imagination of many an Artist. The quality is good and it makes for an impressive vignette in its own right. The context aside, this is a beautiful and powerful miniature with great potential. It does not seek to become the perfect, smooth sculpt and as such needs a human hand in its final execution by the painter as well, I think. If you like that, this is definitely the figure for you.
As this is part of a kickstarter, that I backed, price is at the moment rather fluid, as it is a matter of how much you bought When backing the kickstarter. The kickstarter is closed now, all funded and we are currently in the process of having everything produced and shipped out to the customers. This also makes this review a little different from most, as the miniature is currently unavailable, as the kickstarter is not finished delivering the larger orders. Hopefully, this series of miniatures will be available in the Aradia web store when the dust settles and the kickstarter is all done and all orders delivered.
I made one of the smaller pledges; Guardians of Hell, where I backed 95 CHF, which is equivalent to 83,3€ in which I got to choose two out of four rather large figures. I chose this one which is 75mm scale and Charon the boatman which is also a large vignette piece in 75mm scale. Dividing the price by two we land on a little over 40€ a piece. Considering that single 75mm figures mostly cost around 45€ I think is a more than fair price for these,. Looking at the Gorgon you practically get two figures for the price of one.
Dates and Figures and Stuff
This part is a little different because this was part of a kickstarter, that is not finished for delivery on its larger orders yet (at the time of writing). So it is not currently available, but it hopefully will become so. The price is not fixed either, because it depends on how much you backed the project with. Knowing the prices of other Aradia products, I am sure it will be at a reasonable price if it goes into normal production and becomes available at their website.
Cost Ca 42€ (as part of the Guardians of Hell pledge)
Material Polyurethane Resin
No of Pieces 8
Release date Currently unavailable, being part of a kickstarter, that has been funded
Where can I get it? It will hopefully become available here[ABTM id=6570]